BYU Beats TCU, Takes Conference Lead

The two-headed monster of Trent Plaisted and Jonathon Tavernari were too much for TCU as the Cougars extended their home winning streak at the Marriott Center to 42 straight games and improved to 7-1 in MWC play. The score was 83-72, but the game was not as close as the score indicates.

Plaisted played one of the best games of his career, and Tavernari was fabulous on both sides of the floor. With UNLV losing at Utah, the Cougars now have a one-game lead in MWC play. This was one of the best games that the Cougars have played as a team this season. Everyone that got minutes contributed and played well. Grades are in for this Cougar victory.

Point Guard: B+

Ben Murdock had five assists to one turnover to lead the way for the Cougars in the backcourt. Murdock was not flashy, as he rarely is, but he got the job done again as he got the Cougars in the offense and broke an occasional full-court press by a desperate TCU squad.

Murdock scored his two points on two free throws he knocked down after being fouled going to the rim. He is currently shooting 86 percent from the free-throw line and has become nearly automatic. The problem is he doesn't get there enough unless it's a one-and-one and he's fouled in the backcourt, where about half his free-throws have come from.

Shooting Guard: B

Sam Burgess scored all of his seven points in the first three minutes on a backdoor cut that Jonathan Tavernari made a great pass on, a three pointer, and another layup. Burgess shot 3-5 from the field. While his offensive game all but disappeared after the first three minutes, he still contributed four rebounds, two assists and good defense.

Jimmer Fredette scored 10 points in his 20 minutes of play. He knocked down two three-pointers on four attempts and knocked down two other jumpers. Fredette continues to display why he could be a point guard, as he dropped five assists in his reserve time.

The fact that this kid has the ability to pass just makes him that much more of an asset; this is the same kid that we know is a pure scorer. I'll tell you what, Dave Rose has himself a very good player for the next three and half years.

Small Forward: B+

Even when Lee Cummard scores four points and takes four shots, he still is a major contributor for the Cougars. While he only scored four points, he led the team in rebounds (tied with Collinsworth with seven) and assists (six). The box score says that Cummard had two blocks, but I think he had at least three or four. He got beat on one play to the basket but came out of nowhere and swatted his man off the backboard. It was an impressive play and one of the only plays that made the crowd came alive. That's the story of Lee Cummard; when he doesn't score he gets it done some other way.

Power Forward: A

Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathon Tavernari is back. And so is his fist pump! After a trio of games where he has played very well, I'm going to go on record by saying that he is back to the same player we saw early in the season. Tavernari ended the game with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. He knocked down four three-pointers on seven attempts and had a couple of real nice post moves.

But his scoring was not the only thing that he did well. He was dropping dimes. He had five assists Wednesday night. These were not the typical passes that you would expect from Tavernari. He made two great passes to Plaisted that both went for layups, and he also had a great backdoor pass to Burgess for a layup. It was impressive to see him make the extra pass when his teammates were open, but it was even more impressive to see him make difficult passes to his teammates to set them up for easy buckets. Tavernari also pulled down two rebounds and had two steals for the Cougars. Let's hope that we continue to see Tavernari's energy and fist pump during the second half of the MWC season.

Post: A+

Wednesday could have been the best collegiate game all-around for Plaisted in his BYU career. Now I understand that is a bold statement, as he has had some big games against North Carolina, Louisville, and Michigan State to name a few, but against TCU he was unstoppable. He had 17 points going into halftime and ended with 27. I was hoping that Coach Rose would leave him in at the end of the game so that he could reach his career high in points scored and get into the 30s, but Rose wanted to get Chris Miles some minutes. The game started off well for Plaisted, who on TCU's first possession swatted a TCU shot and got the momentum moving in the Cougars' direction. Plaisted shot an impressive 10-14 from the field and an even more impressive 7-9 from the line.

While Plaisted did pour in 27 points, he only pulled down four rebounds for the Cougars - below his 9.1 average on the season - but he contributed with two steals and the aforementioned block. I have always thought that when he scores big his points are quiet, but this was not the case Wednesday, as he was consistently getting the ball in the post and converting bucket after bucket.

Bench: A-

Chris Collinsworth was shooting the ball from the perimeter and the elbow, and Jimmer Fredette was himself as he knocked down two three-pointers and dropped five dimes.

Chris Miles contributed with a couple of nice post moves and Michael Loyd got in on the action.

Collinsworth contributed with seven points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes of play. Because of the way that Tavernari has been playing recently, Collinsworth's minutes have shrunk, but he showed on Wednesday why he has become such a valuable asset for Coach Rose on the glass.

Coach: A

The Cougars came out and played hard. As a team, this was the most impressive performance of the year, with maybe the only exception being the North Carolina game, which they lost. The offensive side of the ball was fantastic, as the Cougars spread the ball around and entered the ball into the post on a regular basis. For those of you in attendance, you probably noticed how incredibly poor TCU's offense was. I think that was a mix of both how poor the designed offense is, and the strong defensive skills of the BYU defense. TCU would come down the floor and only pass the ball once or twice before forcing up some off-balanced or difficult jumper. This was shown twice for TCU player Ryan Wall, as two of his four three-pointers were prayers that were answered with a bank shot. I can guarantee you that Wall did not call either of those two banks. Coach Rose ran a double team on the big men in the corners that turned into a couple of turnovers for the Cougars. I was impressed with his game plan and the way that the Cougars executed it.

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